Black Detroit firefighters defend white recruit fired over watermelon

Lawrence Kim
October 12, 2017

Nearly all the people who work at the station are black, and some of the African-American firefighters found the gift offensive, Fox 2 reported.

Robert Pattison, a 41-year-old probationary fireman had just completed his training at the firefighter training academy and was appointed to Engine 55 in Detroit, MI.

But a lot of them were African-American, and some found the watermelon - long viewed as a racist symbol - offensive.

"There is zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior inside the Detroit Fire Department".

But Second Battalion Chief Shawn McCarty is not so sure if Pattison deserved to lose his job.

However, the fire department decided after an investigation into the incident that the best action was to fire Pattison.

Pattison says he didn't intend to offend, but but some colleagues were taken aback and the probationaly firefighter is fired.

The fire commissioner issued an official statement saying that Pattison had been fired. About 90 percent of the crew at Engine 55 is black.

"Between what he did and losing his job, there were a few things that could have been done", McCarty said.

A petition on change.org to get Pattinson reinstated has generated more than 2,000 signatures.

"Just want to let everyone know he's a real awesome dude and it was all good intentions", firefighter Tadarius Spearman wrote on a social media post.

On Tuesday, a social media post by Tadarius Spearman stuck up for Pattinson, including a group photo of him with other African-American firefighters.

"Just want to let everyone know he's a real unbelievable dude and it was all good intentions", firefighter Tadarius Spearman wrote in a Facebook post, alongside ten African-American firefighters. "And our entire class [is] supporting him in this. Stay up brother. #DFD".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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